More than 150,000 Inspections Completed in Most Damaged Areas from Rita

November 3, 2005

The U.S. Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that they have completed more than 150,000 inspections in the most damaged areas affected by Hurricane Rita.

“We are pleased with the progress thus far, but there is much more to do,” said Sandy Coachman, the federal coordinating officer for the Texas recovery effort. “And we have the workforce to do it.” With more than 900 inspectors in the field, FEMA continues to ramp up its disaster recovery efforts.

To date, more than 460,000 people have applied for disaster assistance, resulting in $480 million in aid approved for individuals and families affected by Hurricane Rita. Disaster assistance may include grants to cover home repairs, temporary housing and serious disaster-related needs not met by insurance or other sources.

The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and business owners to cover uninsured or underinsured losses.

“The damage must be verified and inspected, so it’s in the applicants’ best interest to make every effort to keep the inspection appointment,” said Duke Mazurek, deputy state coordinating officer for the Texas Governor’s Division of Emergency Management.

To speed the inspection process, applicants are urged to:

* Provide a reliable telephone number where they can be contacted.
* Make sure their home/mailbox number can be easily seen from the road.
* Keep the appointment or notify the inspectors if a postponement is necessary.
* Stay in touch, including telling neighbors of your whereabouts and the appointment.

An inspector will try three times to schedule a damage inspection appointment with an applicant. After that, unnecessary delays may occur. Inspectors are contractors working for FEMA. They are specially trained and have construction and/or appraisal expertise.

The inspection – which is free – takes about 30 or 40 minutes and includes both structure and contents. Homeowners do not have to be at home at the time of the inspection, but a designated representative must be present. An inspector first looks at damages to the home, then looks at damage to appliances, such as the washer and dryer. The inspector also reports serious needs, such as lost or damaged clothing.

The applicant should identify all known damages and possible damages to a septic system or a well. Inspectors do not determine whether an applicant is eligible for assistance.

To apply for disaster assistance, call FEMA 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired.

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